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i'm david gregory, had is "press pass," an extra "meet the press" conversation and this week i'm in tom brokaw as both parties try to put their best foot forward at their own conventions. probably no better person to talk to about the history and the impact of these meetings. we live in an age that these are infomercials, highly scripted affairs, you believe in the utility of them. >> i think it's time to rewrite the script. i think we should reduce it to one day, have the presidential candidate and his vice presidential candidate or her vice presidential candidate in the future appear in primetime in a kind of family-like setting because that's part of how we
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introduce them to the family. they can take two days before that. to do all the fundraising and corporate stuff and all the platform settlement. but not have to have it on television. do that one big night. and then have that by satellite transmitted around the country to football stadiums. chicago, and denver and seattle and have big get out the vote rallies. the reason i say that, is i think we have to revolve the american people in this process. it's now a closed process. >> if you're out there in wichita or walla walla, washington, any of those cities where you're not directly tied to the big republican or democratic establishment, you don't see what's going on in television seems to not have any connection to your life whatsoever. how do we revolve people in a 19th century way, this is the
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most important thing in their lives. >> i'm still young enough to ask you what was it like in a day when there was real business. >> it was great. >> my first convention as a correspondent was 1968 in chicago. and that was, there's never been anything quite like that again. and that's part of the reason they do scrub them and sanitize them. they don't want it to get out of control as it did in chicago. i remember being just off the floor in julian bond was leading the georgia delegation and i had known him in atlanta and they were trying to nominate him as vice president and he was not yet old enough to be qualified for the office. and we exchanged a few words and he was going onto the floor to challenge the establishment about the georgia delegation. who would be seated. i remember the mayor of chicago, the elder flanked by two sons and because of the chaos and the derision that was visited upon
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the daley family in those days and what was going on in the streets, i looked at those two sons and i thought, bill daley and rich daley and i thought, we would never hear from that again. i've told them both the stories. one became the long-time mayor of the city of chicago. bill daley became a big political force. so everything sort of rises and falls. and it was that convention, actually that forced the reforms for 1972, that opened up the party in a different way. same year, in 1968 i was in miami for the nomination of richard nixon and the california delegation, we flew out with them. the press was on the same plane with them. they got off the plane, i remember this vividly. eating mouthfuls of grapes, because there was a grape boycott going on. they going to stick it to the farm workers as they got off the airplane. and the big story of that week was ronald reagan had only been
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in office two kwleeryears. was making a stealth run against richard nixon. he didn't know how to pull it off. he a lot of money behind him. nixon had the whole place so buttoned up. the most understanding moment at the convention was the announcement that his vice presidential candidate would be spiro agnew. i remember the bureau chief in baltimore, washington, looking like he had been electric shocked, that this guy was going to be the vice president. one heartbeat away from the presidency. they went out of there and put together the new republican coalition. which is that they took the south away from the democrats. and they -- richard nixon was very clever about capitalizing on what he called the silent majority, which really did exist, these were working-class democrats, who wore hard hats and carried lunch buckets, who
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fed up with what they were seeing on the democratic side. when i went home from chicago to my home in south dakota on my way back to california, my dad was a life-long working-class democrat. a blue dog democrat. he wore a hard hat. carried a lunchbox. he grew up under fdr, that was his god. >> i thought he would be on the side of the anti-war protesters. he had real doubts about vietnam. he was so outraged about how the anti-war protesters had condu conducted themselves and how they had no respect for law and order. he was just in a rage. my wife remembers that my father and i had the greatest argument that she could ever remember. it was very difficult and i woke up the next day and thought, this is not good news for the democratic party if they've lost my dad, they're not going to be able to pull this off in the fall. >> it's interesting you talk about that. because this is still a big problem and maybe, difficult to quantify it the white
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working-class man today for president obama. >> they still are. they're still out there for him. it's hard to know exactly why in some cases. i think that there's no question, to some degree that race plays a part in all of that. we're still a country that's still sorting our way through a lot of racial issues. but i also think that what a lot of them believe is that you know, we can get these things done on our own. we don't need the government help and we'll see where it goes from there. >> what about star power? i think about bill clinton horrible speech in 1988 at the convention. >> i remember that right. >> i avoided him the next day. he said hey tom and i went the other way, i didn't know what to say to him. but it was -- we learned a lot about clinton, he gave that terrible speech and when he said in conclusion, the place went up, thank god, we're in conclusion. he went on johnny carson. he was trying to track me down to explain himself.
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i didn't know what to say to him. because it had been so embarrassing. >> in four years later, he ushers in this new era of leveraging hollywood personal biography and opening your heart to deal with a negative public image in a brilliant way. >> he went on arsenio hall. that was, that was a critical time in the run-up to his nomination. and he went on arsenio hall, put on his sunglasses and played a sax that was the spontaneous authentic moment. about who he was. and people could identify with this rogue from arkansas. who was whip-smart, no question about that. and he represented his generation. this was a breakthrough. we had not had a boomer at that point. you know everybody else had come out of the world war ii generation. and bill clinton gave voice and imagery to how a lot of people felt. >> in 200 8 he speaks, we were looking at the tape, a thunderous applause. and he, he finally says you
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know, i'm going to run out of time if you don't stop cheering for me, and he pulls back and says, i love this. that's in 2008 after he had been so critical of obama. eel play a huge role again in 2012. trying to sell the president's economic visions. >> one of the most conservative people i know in america, hugely successful guy -- real libertarian, not just a republican and a conservative, but a real libertarian says, clinton would get elected with 85% of the vote in this election. he said i would vote for him because he i think a lot of people feel that he was nimble enough to work across the political spectrum. and identify with what the needs are. and not get hung up on ideology. but move swiftly. as he did. i thought one of the most important things he did as president was welfare reform. >> he went against the liberal wing of his party and said we've got to eliminate what we're doing now, dependency and make it work fair. i also happen to think it was
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exactly the right decision at the right time. but he could see that and made that move very quickly. >> we'll take a quick break here and be back with more from tom brokaw. that fridge in your kitchen may have crossed this bridge. your new car probably rode these rails. that shipment you just received was tracked by satellite. we build and maintain. we invest and innovate. so we can deliver what america needs. this year alone, freight rail companies plan to spend twenty-three billion of their own money, not taxpayer dollars, to build bridges, maintain track, and develop new technologies to keep freight rail and our economy moving. there's a lot riding on these rails.
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[ male announcer ] visit that's contact the verizon center for customers with disabilities at 800-974-6006 tty/v. welcome to the value you deserve. welcome to life on fios. ♪ we're back with more of our press pass conversation with nbc's tom brokaw. which brings us to the president and just, the kind of political figure he is now, does he suit where the country is? >> i think he's learned a lot. he had a lot to learn. in four years. i was criticized for going on
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charlie rose four years ago, right before he took office and said there's a lot about him we still don't know. and charlie said is there a lot about this president we don't know yet? and i said, there is. what i meant is we really don't know what his china policies are. we don't know what he's going to do in russia or the middle east for that matter. the writer erupted saying they got him elected, but they didn't know who he was. the fact is that he came in on a wave. his timing was perfect four years ago. the country was ready for a change after eight years of wars and african-americans. harvard law grad. he pulled in independents. when he got there, the job, i think fair to say was probably not bigger than he thought it would be. but it was probably bigger than his capacity and his experience equipped him for. it's a very tough on-the-job learning experience. i remember on that heady inaugural day, when is he going to do that he's president?
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and whoever the president was whenever the valet comes in in the morning and says, mr. president, it's time to get up. you goes to the oval office and they put the daily intel brief before him and the daily economic numbers before him. now a you're in charge, mr. president and ha are you going to do about it. that's when you get to know that you're president. and this is not just retro. i felt at the time he didn't bring in enough people from the real world. he didn't have enough business experience hands on. they were all very smart. but they came primarily from the political and academic world. >> as we leave the democratic convention, it will be a success if he does what? >> well i think if he is able to persuade the american people that we, this has been a tough four years, and i've learned a lot and i know that you've been through a lot of difficulty. i've tried very hard to reach across the aisle and get them to help all of us through this as well and they haven't been able to do that. we're not just entirely on our own, i know there are a lot of ou

Meet the Presss Press Pass
NBC September 9, 2012 11:30am-11:45am EDT

News News/Business. David Gregory. An extra conversation about what's driving Washington and the nation.

TOPIC FREQUENCY Chicago 6, Tom Brokaw 3, Daley 3, America 3, Georgia 2, Washington 2, Richard Nixon 2, Charlie 2, California 2, Clinton 2, Nixon 1, Arsenio Hall 1, Spiro Agnew 1, David Gregory 1, Bill Daley 1, Obama 1, Boomer 1, Fdr 1, Verizon Fios Internet 1, Nbc 1
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on 9/9/2012